I am apparently not the only person who watched Prison Break who also loves romance. I’ve read several novels recently about innocent convicts involved in government conspiracies. This one throws in the added element of the paranormal. Our ex-firefighter/paramedic hero has developed a new talent since the warehouse fire that began the downward spiral of his life, and he’s looking for answers, vengeance – and his little girl.
Dr. Alyssa Foster has a bad boy fetish but she draws the line at white supremacists; she is after all mixed race, with her Japanese heritage showing in her delicate build and almond eyes. When a simple medical procedure winds up going horribly array and she finds herself the prisoner of a member of the Aryan brotherhood, she knows she is in real trouble. Yet Teague Creek is like no racist she has ever met before.
Teague Creek has done a lot of desperate things since he was falsely accused of murdering his fiancee, not least of which is kidnap the girlfriend of the man who currently has custody of his daughter. Now the two are on the run and he finds her nothing like what he expected. Smart. Resilient. Lovely, but in a subtle, understated way his brother-in-law has never been drawn to. She is truly special. Is he developing some kind of reverse Stockholm syndrome, where he falls in love with his captive?
When the novel begins Alyssa is almost sick from exhaustion. She has been working nearly non-stop for the past several weeks and is anxious to go home and get some rest. When she is asked to perform one more simple procedure, she does so with great reluctance. The patient is a prisoner from nearby San Quentin and she has no desire to spend even a moment with him. Nevertheless, she goes into the exam room to find a patient burning with fever and complaining of abdominal pain. She begins her exam while the bored guards leave the room and start talking golf. Moments later the prisoner makes an amazing recovery, picks up a partner and Alyssa finds herself hostage to two racists on the run.
I should take a moment to warn you that Taz, the second escaped prisoner, is a foul mouthed bigot. For the entire time he is in the novel he not only swears like a sailor but drops racial slurs on a darn near regular basis. I found this to be pretty genuine as I figure that members of the Aryan Brotherhood probably aren’t too concerned with political correctness. However, if you are the kind of reader who prefers to have that alluded to rather than spelled out, know that that is not the case in this novel
Back to the plot. As Taz spews hatred and the three of them elude the cops, Alyssa decides being cooperative will get her nowhere. Unable to actually do anything, she begins to mouth off to her captors. Teague finds this annoying but somehow attractive. They bicker. Then they stop at a gas station to change and go to the bathroom. A fight ensues with some locals. They switch cars. They ditch Taz. Alyssa discovers that Teague burns all the time and it is some kind of weird superpower. Teague shows his heart by being determined to reunite with his daughter. Mayhem ensues. Laws are broken. Evil is revealed. Some sex is thrown in to spice things up.
Teague has got to be the worst planner in romance novel history. This guy can do nothing right. His escape attempt involves kidnapping the wrong woman and partnering up with a complete idiot. He is constantly going from one mess to the next. But what really got me about him was his behaviior in regards to his daughter, Kat. While most parents will do anything to keep their children safe, Teague wants his six year old to go on the run with him. He just knows he needs to be with her. While Kat’s situation is complicated, she is not abused, neglected, or lacking in love. She is far safer than she would be with Teague, who has both the law and dangerous government agents after him. I am sure his devotion was meant to show us what a loving parent he is, but I found myself thinking the opposite. Loving parents are all about the child, not about being with the child. A good parent puts their child’s safety, security and emotional well being first. I saw none of that with Teague.
Ayssa I simply didn’t understand. Maybe I’m just a coward but my understanding of the Aryan Brotherhood has me genuinely scared of those people. I wouldn’t be annoying them every chance I got. She never really developed beyond being a smart aleck. She wasn’t the only part of the novel that lacked growth. A lot is contrived to make the plot work. The law was ignored. Common sense (such as in Teague’s tattoos) was ignored. What saved the novel for me were the Prison Break and paranormal elements. Both added a touch of the unique to the otherwise inane story.
There are several factors unique to the writing style used in this book. The first is barbed witticisms as loving foreplay. I don’t mean the kind of witty, teasing dialogue used in a rom com but the kind of sarcastic, pointed verbal jab most of us only use when deeply annoyed. Another is exasperation being synonymous with admiration. Fighting and arguing being the equivalents of courting and flirting. Lust thought replacing compliments or kindness. Another aspect of this style of writing is reality taking a back seat to plot necessity. I have read novels like this often enough before to realize that this is not just poor writing but a style choice. Because of that, I let a lot of things slide that would normally have me taking points off the grade right and left.
I should add that this was a quick read for me. Once I stopped trying to make any sense of the book and just sat back and went with it, the story worked fine. It wasn’t precisely to my taste but the writing was smooth and there was always some action to keep you distracted from the facts. It reminded me a lot of a beach read, the kind of book that is like cotton candy: Not filling, but something to keep you sweetly occupied. For what it is, it is a fine novel.
This is basically a campy thrill ride which to me was reminiscent of a Cherry Adair or Lori Foster. If you love those authors, I would give this one a try.